Human resources

Training & development


Coaching & mentoring

Spirituality & I Ching


Training and development

We often say "learning" instead of "training", in order to put the focus on the learning aspect. This is because people can be given training and then go back to the workplace without learning anything, and there is no change in their performance or behaviour. The goal of the learning and development practitioner (the trainer) is not just to “deliver training”, but to ensure that learning and development occur.

Nevertheless, it still makes sense to talk about the training and development (T&D) function, the trainer, training materials and so on. There are practitioners who design, develop and deliver training, and it communicates to parties outside the training area that something active is occurring. It doesn't make sense to go to desperate lengths to avoid the word "training". It's up to training practitioners to ensure that they foster or facilitate learning in the way they go about their business. That's an educative process in itself, communicating to participants, or learners, or trainees, and other stakeholders such as line managers, that learning is an active process — trainers can't "pour it in".

Of course, training is still only part of the picture. If employees are to improve their capability and performance, they also need appropriate workplace conditions – good leaders, supportive managers, suitable remuneration, recognition, career opportunities, worthwhile goals, sound strategies and clear work processes. But having a serious, consistent commitment to T&D is the best way that organisations can ensure that they find sustained success.

Training was once a straightforward function concerned with imparting technical skills to employees. Now it is a function with strategic impact on the organisation. Organisations rely on the effective management of knowledge for their competitiveness, and on the broader capabilities of their employees – not just their technical skills, but their skills in interpersonal communication, relationships, decision-making and innovation.

What does it take to establish T&D as an effective core function of an organisation? We can look at the challenge in terms of (a) systems, and (b) cultural perspectives:

The message for HR and T&D practitioners is that T&D initiatives have to become more sophisticated – more in touch with the business agenda, and more integrated into ordinary work practices, rather than being a separate activity that struggles for effectiveness and relevance.


Recommended reading

Managing Training & Development, is the CCH Australia subscription-based information service for which I have been editor and chief writer since 1998. It is updated four times a year. The guide covers all aspects of training, learning and development, iincluding design, development, delivery and evaluation of T&D programs, employee development and organisational development, vocational training and qualifications, legal issues, and the management of the trainng function. See

Article: The learning process

What does research tell us about the learning process? The article "The learning process" is useful for managers who wish to coach their employees and also helpful for your own journey of learning.

The learning process

Links to websites

American Society for Training and Development: